Country music icon Porter Wagoner
has died. He was 80. The star passed away at an Alive Hospice facility in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday after a battle with lung cancer. The Grand Ole Opry inductee, who famously discovered Dolly Parton
, was admitted to the hospital on October 15 after falling seriously ill. Wagoner, who almost died in July 2006 after suffering a stomach aneurysm, enjoyed a lengthy career spanning 56 years in the music industry. The Missouri-born star signed his first record deal with Rca Records in 1955, and he joined the Opry in 1957 - where he went on to celebrate his 50th year at the venue in May 2007. His partnership with Parton began in 1967, when he introduced the then-21-year-old to his TV audience on The Porter Wagoner Show
. Throughout his career, Wagoner garnered various accolades for his work with Parton as well as his solo successes, and was honored with three Grammys, an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and numerous Country Music Association awards. Fellow country star and Opry member Dierks Bentley
led the tributes to Wagoner, saying: "The loss of Porter is a great loss for the Grand Ole Opry and for country music, and personally it is a great loss of a friend I was really just getting to know. I feel blessed for the time I had with him." Pete Fisher
, vice president and general manager of the Opry, also expressed his sadness at Wagoner's death. He adds, "His passion for the Opry and all of country music was truly immeasurable."